SSDP is very excited to welcome our newest established chapter at Fitchburg State University! Located in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, FSU SSDP will be joining our strong chapter network in the Commonwealth. Earlier this week, I had the chance to catch up with Jackson Boonstra, our chapter founder and leader at Fitchburg. Here is what Jackson had to say about his involvement.
How did you first hear about SSDP?
I first heard about SSDP while attending a Cannabis Curriculum and Hemposium at Suffolk University in Boston. There I met Suffolks, Harvards, and BU’s chapter leaders and listened to informative presentations on cannabis. They influenced me to start my own chapter at the state university I am attending.
What made you want to get involved in the drug policy reform movement?
I’m a dutch citizen and have traveled to The Netherlands almost every year of my life. Their drug policies are very different than America’s and have proven to work better when it comes to stopping crime and preventing/treating addiction. I have been an open and avid supporter of marijuana legalization for medical and recreational use since I was first taught about cannabis. I have personally witnessed the devastating consequences bad drug policies have on people especially students.
How has the reception on campus been so far?
Working with upperclassmen students and faculty members the reception of my club on campus has been devine. I’m not afraid to ask questions when I need help and find those who I need assistance from very open and willing. The process of becoming an official student organization went faster than I expected.The staff at my school is really supportive of student clubs and free speech. I have not had any setbacks in the process so far.
What are some events and campaigns you have planned for your chapter?
So far due to the newness of the chapter we haven't done a great deal of events. We schedule table time in the campus center for publicity and sign up purposes about once a month. Last month we gave away over 300 condoms to over 100 students as part of the Great American Condom Campaign. Later this month we will be screening a movie about medical marijuana in the small theater on campus where we plan to have a panel discussion afterwards featuring a local medical marijuana patient and a professional to talk about the current status of medical marijuana in Massachusetts.
Other events we have planned for next semester are:
Register to Vote [to Legalize Marijuana in 2016]
Why marijuana is safer than alcohol symposium
Drug war related movie screenings
DanceSafe Informational (Prior to school hosted ‘raves’)
Good Samaritan Policy Campaigning
What is the most challenging part of your experience founding and/or running the chapter so far?
The most difficult part of running the newest club on campus is getting positive publicity. While Facebook groups and hanging up flyers get a good handful of people’s attention I would like to have better access to everyone on campus somehow. Maybe through email blasts or advertising on the flat screen monitors hanging around campus, it’s my thought that many more people would be interested in this club and it’s campaign processes if they only knew more about it.
What is the most rewarding part?
The most rewarding part of running my club is my ability to do almost anything. As a president of a club I can reserve any room on campus be it a meeting room or a movie theater. I can buy movie rights and snacks for programs with my club’s set budget. I can create flyers and hang them up on the 50+ bulletin boards to get people attention. I can reserve tables in lobbies to lobby for more just school policies. And lastly, I can collect a mass of equally minded students to assure them that their disagreement and want to change laws is completely sane if not more sane than just living/dealing with them.
What are you most excited about for your chapter right now?
I’m really excited about the fact that my club was just officially recognized by Fitchburg State University after three years of being out of commission. I expect great things to come from it, policy changes, and more informed and educated student. I’m also excited to have founded it early in my college career so I can continue with the club process over the next few years.
What is your vision for SSDP? What do you see your chapter accomplishing in the future?
I invision SSDP implementing a Good Samaritan Policy on campus, informing students on drug policies and laws, adding to the already huge pool of registered voters in Massachusetts who want marijuana legalized. I see my club being a great source of educational material and open conversation.
If you are a student at Fitchburg State University please consider joining the chapter today by contacting Jackson to get involved.